November 27, 2020

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Nelson Mandela Bay: Nine suspects arrested for corruption worth R56.4m

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The Hawks Serious Corruption Offences team arrested nine suspects aged between 30 and 65-years-old from the Nelson Mandela Bay metropolitan municipality on Friday 20 November 2020, on multiple charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering exceeding R56.4 million. 

While  R56.4 million is deemed to be the actual loss, the Hawks said there is a potential loss of around R200 million. The suspects were warned to hand themselves over to the Hawks on Friday morning and are expected to appear in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court on the same day. 

SUSPECTS INCLUDE TWO FORMER NELSON MANDELA BAY MUNICIPAL OFFICIALS 

The nine suspects include two former Nelson Mandela Bay municipal officials, two influential community office bearers, as well as, five business people. 

The nine suspects will be charged along with six juristic persons (entities). The tenth person, who was to be arrested and who cannot be named as yet, recently passed away. 

According to Lieutenant Colonel Philani Nkwalase, the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality was among those selected for a rapid bus system in 2010 and the Integrated Public Transport System “IPTS” project was administered with funding allocated by the National Treasury. 

In the same year, another project called Implementation and Maintenance of an Institutional Contracts Management and Administration System (ICMAS) was undertaken. 

UNLAWFUL PROCUREMENT PROCESSES 

The service providers chosen on the two projects were reportedly irregular and their prices were allegedly inflated. The Nelson Mandela Bay matter was reported to the Hawks for investigations in September 2018 following an audit report by the National Treasury between October 2014 and March 2017. 

“It is alleged that the suspects operated a syndicate with [a] common purpose to unlawfully circumvent the prescribed procurement processes to irregularly and fraudulently benefit specific suppliers or consultants,” said Nkwalase. 

“It is further alleged that influential office bearers colluded with municipal officials and controlled decision-making in the appointments of specific persons in critical municipal posts. This was purportedly done to influence procurement processes as well as the appointments of entities willing to advance the interests of the syndicate,” added Nkwalase. 

Nkwalase said the alleged objective was to ensure a steady stream of unlawful payments from the Municipality to members of the syndicate where the funds were distributed to other syndicate members. 

The arrests on Friday form part of the second leg of investigations regarding the Nelson Mandela Bay case, as the first leg conducted in April 2017, saw six suspects arrested.